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Over the weekend the IAK held its annual assessment meeting. At this meeting we talked about the past year, which we believe was very successful, and of course the association’s outlook for the next twelve months.

While there was much discussed at this meeting and many formative decisions made, what is of most significance is an update on the make-up of the committee. We don’t usually hold formal elections unless they are entirely necessary or called for. However, as of Saturday the IAK is proud to announce that we have a new Chairperson, Shauna Browne.

Shauna has been tirelessly promoting our cause since she joined up in 2011 and has been a revelation in terms of getting events running. She started off working as our PRO, and made great strides promoting and building a strong Facebook and Meetup following. It didn’t take her long to start getting involved in all other kinds of activities, none more so than dancing and music.

Last year, she accepted the role as vice-chair of the association, a position opened up by the necessity to allow for more flexibility and to create a more streamlined decision making process. It also allowed for Shauna to concentrate on more activities than just promoting our events, and she grew to the task admirably. She was instrumental in our 2013 St Patrick’s Day Festival, and the recent Ceili, where she is always a familiar site leading and encouraging dancers, not to mention playing music on stage. To be honest, if there has been an Irish event run in the past twelve months it is sure to have had Shauna’s stamp on it somewhere.

Former IAK Chairman Conor O’Reilly and newly elected Chairwoman Shauna Browne at the 2013 Saint Patrick’s Day festival in Seoul.

As Chairman over the past year it has been a welcome reassurance to have Shauna with me. As I have a young family, I couldn’t guarantee my attendance at many evening and Seoul events. It was at this time that I started working closest with Shauna (probably mostly through kakao talk!) and I began to understand that here was a person who I could recognise my own can-do attitude.

For myself, I am both happy and sad to be stepping down as Chairman. It was a very productive two years for me in the IAK, where I realised many different goals and was granted some unforgettable experiences.

When I set out in 2011 I aimed to make the community more close, and to make the IAK more visible in the Irish community. While I now realise that because of the nature of the Irish community I can never really achieve that, I can at least start to set the train in the right direction. With small numbers and restricted commitment, it will always be an uphill battle but it is an area I hope to continue working on with the IAK.

Another project I am particularly proud of is the Irish Korean Essay Competition. As a lecturer in a university here I realised the importance of attracting the many enthusiastic learners of English to Ireland. While our competition is young, our prize is still significant. This November will see the third essay competition taking place.

Finally, it was this April where I was really humbled and honoured by my position, as I laid a wreath at the foot of the memorial for the Irish who fell during the Korean war. While so much went on behind the scenes for the establishment of this small monument, it was this simple ceremony on a damp morning at the Yongsan Korean War Memorial that made the long hours of preparation worthwhile for all concerned. The IAK is by no means an official representative of the Irish community here, but I think that I was honoured for being the representative of all the Irish in Korea, from the past, the present, and the future.

That’s enough about me though, as it is time to welcome Shauna into the hot-seat. I am sure that she has her own goals and aspirations as chair of the IAK. I think we shall see renewed energy in our activities and I hope that everyone will continue to support Shauna as much as they have supported me over the past two years.

Thank you again to everyone who has been my friend and offered support to our organisation, and I look forward to a bright and vibrant future for the Irish Association of Korea.

Kindest regards

Conor O’Reilly ex-Chairman of the IAK

Committee Officer Update

Shauna Browne has been elected as Chairwoman of the IAK for the first time. Shauna comes from Tipperary and lives in Paju. She has been living in Korea for four years and has been with the IAK since 2011. She is active on the Irish music circuit in Korea, as well as maintaining a healthy blog of her adventures here.

Follow Shauna on twitter: @iamshaunabrowne

The IAK would like to congratulate Janet Newenham on her new position of Public Relations Officer with the IAK. Janet, a native of Cork and a resident of Paju in Gyeonggi-do, will be busy working on our publicity here in Korea.

Follow Janet on twitter: @janennewenham

We would like to wish Eamonn Maher, our secretary, all the best in the future as he returns to Ireland in January. Eamonn has been working hard as our secretary and as a enthusiastic committee member, getting his hands dirty on all occasions. Of course, his toughest job was undoubtedly making sure Conor followed up on most of his responsibililites…but that’s another story!

With that in mind, the IAK currently have an opening for a secretary in our committee. The main job of the secretary is to communicate about meetings, and to keep minutes.

The IAK is also keen to encourage new committee members to assist in our many activities throughout the year. If you have any experience working promoting events or managing a small non-profit, or if you absoluntely no recognisable skills but bags of enthusiasm and energy, we’d love to hear from you. The IAK works year round promoting Irish culture in Korea and the more hands we have the better job we can do. For details of how you can get involved please email us:

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